The idea for Colorado Silver, Colorado Gold came from the location of Durango, so looking into Durango history, I chose the 1880s. To the location and time I added some general plotting. But a story is told through the character, so they must have names.
I already had the name of my heroine, Julie (a cute blonde girl that I used to work with). But Julie is not really historical for that time, so making the backstory (all that happens to you character before the book starts that make them who and what they are) that her father was a fan of Shakespeare, so named his daughters Cordelia (King Lear) and Juliette (with Romeo). I don’t actually say this in the story, so if you caught the Julie and Cory connection – good for you.
Once I had the heroine’s name, I needed a hero for her. One that would contrast and eventually connect with her character. My hero’s name is Wes, to underline ‘the west’ where the story takes place (and short and easy to type – always a consideration). I didn’t want Wes to be short for Wesley (too Princess Bride), so made it a contraction of his last name, Westmoreland. Again the sub text of connection with the wide open spaces of the west.
Julie’s Uncle Frank is named after a nice guy I used to work with. Other character names seem to just pop up full blown. Landham Kennedy, the villain’s name came just that way. There were a lot of Irish immigrants in the United States which accounts for the Kennedy. But I don’t think Landham is his real first name, but one he took when he came west. I see Kennedy and his friend/hanger-on Rickman as hiding their southern roots of being poor white trash. Both Clare and her brother, Lieutenant Sullivan also had ties to the wave of Irish immigrants in the 1840s.
Wes’ friend Kate Valdez is obviously part Mexican, which would be realistic for a woman in either California or Colorado. Kate just sounded like a good, solid name for an old friend.
In case you’re interested, the title comes from the silver and gold mined in Colorado, but also my heroine (with the silver blonde hair) and my hero (with the golden blond hair).
Do you ever name characters after people you know?